Central Falls residents, city leaders begin to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Blackstone Valley

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — A set of Central Falls residents are beginning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday after the state announced communities hardest hit by the virus would be included in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout.

Outgoing Mayor James Diossa, Mayor-elect Maria Rivera and Central Falls Chief Health Strategist Michael Fine all received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“As mayor I feel that the moment has come where people are again restored with hope,” Diossa said.

Nearly 1,500 doses are expected in Central Falls from the R.I. Department of Health by the end of the week. One of the places these are being distributed is the Central Falls Housing Authority.

The housing authority has two buildings with roughly 300 residents total, and enough vaccine to cover those who want it. People made appointments last week and doses were given in their room to avoid large gatherings.

Calls went out to Central Falls Public School families through their call line Tuesday, due to an additional donation of Moderna vaccines from a pharmacy in Providence.

The nearly 300 appointments set for Wednesday and Saturday were fully booked in hours. The requirements were only being a resident of Central Falls and over at 18-years-old.

Health leaders say anyone in Central Falls is considered high risk, by definition, but the city is being strategic on who will get the vaccines first.

City leaders say they wanted to get vaccinated publicly to set an example.

“There are a lot of things being said right now about the vaccine,” Rivera said. “Hearing it from us and seeing us getting the vaccine, I am sure a lot of our residents who have questions will now think about getting vaccinates.”

The manager of City Falls Housing Authority says since people saw the mayor receive the vaccine, they’ve had even more requests from their residents.

Who will receive the vaccine next is still unclear, but officials say it depends on how much of the vaccine they are given by the state.

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